Based on two schemes in place in Norway, this Peer Review is an opportunity to explore area-based policies promoting good living conditions for young people in deprived areas. The problems in these urban areas are to a large extent related to socio-economic factors; therefore most measures target the whole population while special efforts are aimed directly at residents with an immigrant background. Combatting poor standards of living amongst children and youth, and promoting social mobility in urban areas with poor living conditions is crucial for breaking the transmission of disadvantage across generations and diminishing the likelihood of social exclusion in the future.
A major regeneration project in the east district of Oslo, the Grorud Valley, launched jointly by the government and Oslo City Council (2007-2016) aims to improve living conditions as well as to upgrade transport and environmental infrastructure. Most relevant to the Peer Review are actions targeting young people. One particularly successful venture has been the provision of free core-time day-care for children aged 4 and 5, which has been shown to result in the improved performance of children when they reach the 10th grade and in lower rates of school drop-out. For the children of immigrants it provides a valuable opportunity to gain the language skills necessary to reap the full benefits of regular education and later to enter the labour market, both of which can be crucial for securing their long-term social inclusion.
More generally a grant scheme introduced by the government in 2003 provides financial support across Norway for children and young people in urban areas affected by poverty, with local authorities having the freedom to tailor programmes to local needs. Two of these programmes focus on enabling children to take part in extra-curricular activities, irrespective of their parents' financial situation and on helping young people with few or no qualifications to enter the labour market. Those programmes present examples of social investments with positive returns as the costs will be outweighed by long-term benefits for children and society. Such programmes are in line with the goals of Europe 2020 Strategy (namely, poverty reduction; reaching benchmark on early childhood education and participation, reducing the share of early school leavers, raising employment).
Ms Katja Korolkova (ÖSB Consulting GmbH)